Audition rant.

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by kurt muroki, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. I have not posted on this group for a long time, but i feel that this needs to be said... not meant to offend

    "the excessive hours of preperation needed for the super marathon auditions these days only degrades quality, musicality, and can cause pain and injury."

    It is sad that in this day and age of orchestras folding and hard times in general that some orchestras are not able to find one person good enough to join their orchestra when an audition is held. In my opinion, holding an audition means that you are giving hope to many musicians who as a collective spend thousands of dollars both in travel expenses and lost work. This gives the orchestras the responibility as a vital piece of the musical community to make sure that their auditions are held responsibly. There are so many fantastic bassists these days, I can not believe that no one is good enough to win. Is there perhaps,maybe, possibly a problem with the audition process???

    In my opinion, either the list is way too long and people are not able to prepare, the orchestras are not wanting to actually hire anyone, they are judging too strictly, or they want someone specific and want to be able to invite people to a special audition.

    I feel that a list of 7 orchestral selections (not whole works), 2 orchestral solos, and 1 or 2 solo works are absolutely good enough to tell how people play and whether they are good enough to be in any orchestra.

    I can say that I did not take this audition, and yet I am still posting this. Why should I put my neck on the line to write this? Why should I care? Because classical music is hurting. I do not like the direction things are going. We should be supportive of our fellow musicians during these hard times.

    I feel that every orchestra should have a policy that they are required to take someone at every audition. This would make the comittee take things seriously and actually create a list that is reasonable. Also it would make the money spent by the auditionees worth spending.

    I'm not sure that the people taking the time to decide on a list take enough time to really decide on a good list. When you ask for an excerpt, do not specify which edition especially if various editions have different... divisi or even completely different parts altogether, then have you really done your job to try and get the best player possible?

    If you ask for an unusual piece of music not usually asked for in an audition, then you SHOULD ask for it in your audition. Otherwise people waste a lot of their valuable time learning something which keeps them from preparing for the audition... common sense!!!! Otherwise what is the purpose?

    Again I do not mean to offend in any way. I just want to spread some common sense and support my fellow bassists.

    Let us choose to restore sanity in auditions.
  2. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm a complete outsider to the orchestral world but I have spent 20 years working in human resources management. I'm no expert on recruitment (I'm a specialist in demography, statistics and planning) but I've worked decades with people who are. One thing that seems to be universally true, in my company at least, is that if we let every job selection be dictated ONLY by current incumbents of those positions -- if we let only engineers select engineers, for example -- we'd have a vastly poorer, less competent workforce. If we left it only up to the existing incumbents, the first problem we'd have is a selection process with no form or poor form. We fix that. The next thing that happens is those current incumbents get set on creating The Perfect _______ (fill in the blank.) Very, very few people wind up meeting the criteria and many, many good people are given a closed door.

    It's very challenging to get those current incumbents to think sensibly and objectively about what's really required to perform competently at the job. You have to challenge *every single* assumption they've latched onto over the years. Some of the assumptions are good, many are not. I haven't run across a single occupation in our company of over 6000 people in over 100 occupational categories where this isn't true.

    In short, if you let the monkeys run the monkey house you ain't gonna have much fun in that barrel. It sounds like a good idea but they are simply too close to things to see them clearly. They need help.

    It's too bad people are so short-sighted. Sounds like a very frustrating situation, Kurt.
  3. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001

    That was very insightful!
  4. sybarite


    Mar 4, 2006
    New York, NY
    hate to be devil's advocate here for a second.... but its seems like the Met has it figured out pretty well.

    -around 13-15 short excerpts (if memory serves me right)
    -one solo mvt of bach,
    -they allow everyone to play all excerpts in each round (thus eliminating they dreaded early "thank you very much" )
    -full screen for the whole thing.
    -no music director at the audition, there are hired by panel of there peers
    -and they always seem to hire someone.

    On a side note I believe they are the highest paid bass section in the US if not possibly the world. (not accounting for cost of living of course)

    If more orchestras followed this, would the outcome be better for classical music?
  5. makes complete sense.

  6. petesenkowski

    petesenkowski Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
  7. "As I said above, the vast majority of people on committees in my experience always vote for someone to win the audition. The committee isn't rejecting all the finalists. Rather they are too divided to select just one finalist from the many qualified players." - the last sentence in the blog.

    what about auditions where no one advances past the 1st round? can we apply the same reasoning?
  8. filrich


    Oct 14, 2006

    Thank you for saying what has been on my mind for years, and I could not agree more with all of the points you have brought to light.

    What about the wide array of "screening processes" orchestras have? Resumes, recordings, and recommendations. I think Atlanta did a resume process, I know New York, the MET, and Cleveland for example, have a recording process, and then there was Philly, from what I understand, took players, whose resumes were rejected, if they got a recommendation.

    I know that the last cello audition that Chicago had, there was one person in the finals and did not take this person. How many years did San Francisco and Montreal take in choosing a Principal Bass? I remember it also took Chicago a long time to hire a principal oboe, this was some years ago, til they finally appointed Alex Klein. He is a fantastic musician, yet we have this obviously flawed process that cost people a lot of time, money and energy.

    This process is frustrating. I would question my mentors, only to be told, "it is the best system we have."

    Do you think this system is too one dimensional?

    Personally, I think it is criminal what the conservatory and university systems are doing. Cranking out so many players every year when really their training has not given them the tools to 'enjoy' and make a living as a musician. Really, what is the ratio of musicians with degrees in performance to that of musicians playing in symphony orchestras?

    I talk with my friends in Europe and they are floored by the fact that 100 people would come to an audition. When there, if the numbers reach double digits, it is a phenomenon.

    Perhaps an overhaul is in order?
  9. I always believe that there are well run auditions and poorly run auditions and the orchestras do have the right to decide how to run their organization, but one fact for sure is that there are many excellent bassists out there and there is no valid reason for at least 1 bassist not to make it into the finals. If there were hundreds of positions open each year, we would not be up in arms over this, but many orchestral musicians hold faculty positions in the universities and conservatories and have students who wish to win jobs and be successful. Is it right to turn around and then make an audition impossible to win? We are a small comunity of musicians who nees to look out for each other. We need to support our students in their wish to become professional musicians. We need to do more outreach and connect with young people. We need to provide concerts for young families so we can inspire young kids and their parents as well. Why do we sit around and not be proactive? There needs to be a change in our attitude and our intent.

    Music is collaborative whether you are playing in orchestra, chamber music, a solo piece with piano or even a bach cello suite. When ego and pride get in the way, you end up with much less than you started musically speaking.
  10. Scatterblak


    May 12, 2007
    Nashville, Tennessee
    Endorsing Artist for Low End bass guitars, DNA Amplification
    Just a friendly question from a bass-playing bystander:

    ...not sure why this is the orchestra's fault? I know if I'm hiring a doctor ('auditioning', as it were), and none of the applicants can perform at the level I need them to perform at, I don't just pick the best one and hire him. Maybe the process is flawed, and needs to be adjusted so that competent musicians don't fall through the cracks, but the current thread seems, to me, to tread dangerously close to a sort of 'if you're holding auditions, you ought to hire at least one person' vibe - a sure recipe for a mediocre organization - orchestral or otherwise. Or is there a salient point I'm missing as regards the audition process itself? My experience is more touring/studio than orchestral, but I just don't seem to remember the auditions being as screwed up as they seem to be being presented here.

    *Very* interesting thread, though!
  11. ¡bassballbill!


    Feb 25, 2008
    I think the argument is more that for those who have a finger on the pulse of the young classical scene, it's silly to think that at least one person out of the hundred+ who show up to these big auditions isn't good enough to even make it out of the first round, much less get a trial with the orchestra (this is the one that really bothers me -- there's no reason not to at least see what the best applicant or two is like in the actual context of the job). This may or not be true, but when the list for an audition is upwards of 20 hours of music, nobody (excuse the blanket statement) is going to be prepared enough to play every excerpt to the best of their ability, so the panel is just asking to be underwhelmed.
  12. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I don't agree that's what's being said here. From my distance, thinking (perhaps in error) that we are talking about a competition for an open bass chair in a desirable New York City orchestral ensemble, I find it difficult to believe that such an opportunity wouldn't attract some of the most competent -- if not finest, period -- players in the world. That you wouldn't find a single competent player in a market like that seems incredible to me. Incredible in the literal sense of the word: not believable. Something's fishy there. I think at the very least the organization could be more effective at recruiting if that's what they're experiencing. That you might be looking at a process that's dysfunctional for both sides of the transaction is different than saying there's some kind of quota or rule of thumb or guideline or whatever you might call it where you must hire at least one person from the pool.
  13. I do understand your point. It does actually work out very well to have a manditory hire though. The Met opera does it and they have a fantastic orchestra. Orchestral auditions are special... usually there are 200 - 300 people trying out for 1 spot. The top 5 players (whether they advance or not) are absolutely fine for whatever position is offered.
  14. ¡bassballbill!


    Feb 25, 2008
    Not to mention, if you don't hire anyone at the first audition, you're assuming, I assume, that you'll find someone better at the second audition (unless nobody is hired because the panel can't agree, but that's where trials come in). But it's insane to assume that more people would spend their time and money showing up for a second one if they know that nobody was even given a trial at the first.
  15. sybarite


    Mar 4, 2006
    New York, NY
    another reason for a mandatory hire:

    when people are hired they almost always have a probationary period of a year or two so the orchestra can decide if they are a good fit or not.

    therefore there is almost no long term risk in hiring someone... so why not pick a winner and try them out? :confused:

    when I was at the NY phil audition in 2007 I saw the list of players before and after me... it was a virtual 'who's who' of excellent bass players in the orchestral world, (some of these players even had principal jobs in ICSOM orchestras.) I was saddened to find out that no one was even worthy of playing a final round.
    3 years and 3 auditions later no one has been hired, and I believe only one person has made it to the 'final' round. who is this helping?
  16. ILIA


    Jan 27, 2006
    No-hire situations mean more sub work for freelancers and students of contracted members of the orchestra, less money spent for salary/benefits (administrators love this), more musicians in the rank-and-file (subs unprotected by the collective bargaining agreement and/or tenure) that will put up with BS and kiss-a$$, and, of course, the possibility of finding "the one" perfect hire.

    No-hire situations mean positions are left vulnerable to downsizing because you are basically saying to administrators that you can get by in day-to-day operations with less expensive personnel, possibly a shallower pool of talent the next time around,
  17. sybarite


    Mar 4, 2006
    New York, NY
  18. Got one today actually! Dittersdorf 1st mvt with Cadenza, Own choice of modern piece (I'm playing Psy by Berio) and three excerpts - Rigoletto, something from Aida and Ein Heldenleben (only eight bars). What's the job? Childrens theatre and experimental chamber opera band.... Where did the Heldenleben come from???
    Wish me luck!
  19. bassat88


    Mar 3, 2008
    New York City
    What I don't understand is why would the management spend so much money on renting out the halls and paying the audition committee and not hire anyone?

    Waste of money much?
  20. Yayyemen


    Nov 17, 2010

  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Dec 5, 2021

Share This Page